If you feel scared or confused around your partner, or doubt yourself when you’re talking with them, you may be experiencing emotional abuse. An emotional abuser’s goal is to undermine another person’s feelings of self-worth and independence. In an emotionally abusive relationship, you may feel that there is no way out or that without your partner you’ll have nothing. Emotional abuse is a form of domestic and family violence.
If you feel you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, there are a number of things you can do to get support. It’s important to know that if you’ve been affected by emotional abuse, it’s not your fault and it’s never acceptable. You have the right to feel safe, respected and supported in your relationships.
Emotional abuse can feel as destructive and damaging as physical abuse, and can severely impact your mental health. It’s often used as a way to maintain power and control over someone.
Emotional abuse may be accompanied by other kinds of abuse: sexual, financial or physical. However, it doesn’t need to include other kinds of abuse to count as abuse; it’s serious enough on its own to be a concern.
Emotional abuse can involve any of the following:
Physical violence is often seen as being more serious than emotional abuse, but this simply isn’t true. The scars of emotional abuse are real and long-lasting. As well as having a negative impact on your self-esteem and confidence, emotional abuse can leave you feeling depressed, anxious or even suicidal.
If you’re experiencing emotional abuse, it’s important that you seek help. There are a number of services you can contact if you need someone to talk to.
Check out Domestic violence and what you can do about it for information on things to consider when dealing with domestic violence, including where to go to make sure you’re safe, and the kinds of support you can access: legal, financial and medical.
Most importantly, if you feel afraid or believe you might be in danger, contact the emergency services (000) immediately.
You can also use ReachOut NextStep, an anonymous online tool that will recommend relevant support options for you.